for the love of simple food. (slow roasted tomato and basil bisque)
I love simple food.
Sure, there is a time and place for a laundry list of ingredients and dirtying every bowl in the kitchen—cinnamon rolls come to mind—But after work on Monday is not one of them.
Weekday dinners call for short ingredient lists and easy clean up. Simple food doesn’t mean bland.
Orchestrating the right foods with the right cooking methods and the right seasonings can create magical food without a lot of time in the kitchen.
Cue this soup. Slow roasted tomatoes and basil are blended with scaled milk and simply seasoned. You’ll never want to eat canned soup again. It is smooth and creamy, with a sweet tomato bite.
Please, please, please use good tomatoes for this. You’ve heard me say this before, but I’m going to say it again—simple foods require high-quality ingredients. Optimally, you’d walk out your door and pick the fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes off your plants and roast those.
But alas, it is January (and that photo is from August).
So make sure you are using high-quality canned tomatoes. Obviously, the best canned ones would be home-canned, but if you are like me and have no tomatoes stored, go to the Italian section of your grocery store and find a good quality brand. I use Cento, which is decidedly more expensive than the Hunts or store-brand tomatoes in the canned veggie section, but totally worth it. Italian plum or San Marzano would both be delicious.
The idea for this soup came from this fantastic cookbook we got from my sister for Christmas: Sustainably Delicious by Michel Nischan.
How can you not love a cookbook that has a tagline like this?
A bit of a caveat, the “slow roasted” part does take 90 minutes, which seems ridiculous, but that time is 100% hands-off. Set it and forget it. In the original recipe, the cooking time was 4 hours to overnight! That is just completely unrealistic for our lifestyle.
And once you pull the tomatoes and basil out of the oven, it is at most 5 minutes until you are eating. Your active kitchen time is easily less that 10 minutes for this recipe.
Slow Roasted Tomato and Basil Bisque
1 28 oz. can of HIGH-QUALITY Italian tomatoes (whole, peeled) or 6-7 fresh tomatoes, peeled and cored
1 large bunch basil
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. skim milk, scalded
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 300°. Pour whole tomatoes into a 9×13 baking dish. Slice tomatoes in half. Drizzle with 1/4 c. olive oil. Sprinkle with half basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes for 90 minutes until sauce is thickened.
In a blender, add tomatoes and sauce, remainder of basil and skim milk. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and small basil leaves for garnish. Perfect for grilled cheese dipping!
Makes 4-1 1/2 c. servings.
Let’s cook this. Preheat your oven to 300° and then dump out your tomatoes into a 9×13 baking dish. Using a sharp knife, slice the tomatoes into halves or quarters.
Drizzle the entire dish with the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper accordingly.
I actually oversalted because I was too busy taking this photo. It was still delicious. Do as I say, not as I do (or photograph).
Add in some basil leaves. You could probably use dried basil, but it is very easy to grow basil on a window sill and I highly recommend it.
Roast in the oven for 90 minutes. About 20 minutes into it, your house will smell so amazing that you will be kissing my toes. I promise.
Take them out when the sauce is thickened and darkened.
Beautiful, eh? You could probably just throw these on top of some pasta and it’d make for a delicioso pasta sauce.
Set those tomatoes aside while you scald you milk. We scalded milk to assist in softening the dough for cinnamon rolls (twice in one entry!), but here, the only purpose is to bring up the milk to a hot enough temperature to speed along the soup process.
Now it is assembly time. Pull out your blender. Hey look, Babyface fixed mine after I overwhelmed it. Throw in your roasted tomatoes, juice oil and all. Plus the remainder of your basil.
Remove the little vent-y thing from your blender.
Cover the porthole with a kitchen towel and blend away.
Puree the heck out of it. You want it very smooth.
Then stream in the milk while the blender is running on the lowest setting.
Look how well it matches.
Taste for seasoning.
And…you’re done. Easy, right?
Garnish with a swirl of olive oil and some baby basil leaves.
Other good topping ideas: feta, creme fraiche, scallions.
Or, to make it kid-friendly: Goldfish or soup crackers!
And since it is tomato soup, you have to serve it with a hot ham and cheese on the side.
Or, a more adult version—extra sharp cheddar, prosciutto, on Mediterranean olive bread.
Perfect for dipping!
And lets take a second to swoon over my brand new lemongrass Fiestaware serving dish. Thanks Dad and Mama!